Volume 95, Issue 45

Wednesday, November 21, 2001
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UWO Muslims celebrate Ramadan

Ombuds listens to our bitchin' and moanin'

U.S. offers bounty for Osama

'Funshawe' might get call centre

Ontario researchers shed new light on AIDS

News Briefs

Ontario researchers shed new light on AIDS

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

In two separate cases, Ontario researchers believe they may both be closer to eliminating HIV-infected DNA cells and creating a vaccine for the potentially lethal disease.

An Ottawa-based research group has devised a treatment they say has showed promise in deleting the presence of HIV in cell testing, while a McMaster University professor said he has developed a vaccine that had a 90 per cent success rate in mice.

Last Thursday, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute released the results of a study that shows it may be possible to completely eliminate the presence of HIV.

"There's no treatment that eliminates the DNA in cells, that's what's exciting about all of this," said OHRI clinician investigator Andrew Badley.

While current HIV treatments aim to stop the reproduction of infected cells, Badley said his institute was able to completely eliminate the presence of HIV in cells from HIV-positive patients to "undetectable levels" in four of seven test tube tests.

Badley said OHRI will begin animal testing soon and hopes to start testing humans in as little time as a year.

"This is a novel approach to deal with a novel problem," Badley said. "We're cautiously optimistic this can work, but it's a long way from benefiting patients."

Earlier this month, McMaster pathology and molecular medicine professor Ken Rosenthal presented his findings of a possible vaccine to an AIDS conference in Toronto.

Rosenthal's research has focused on stopping sexual transmission of the disease and aims to create immunity in the mucous membranes of the body, including the genitals, lungs and stomach.

Western virology professor C. Young Kang, who attended the conference and is a colleague of Rosenthal's, said while he is optimistic about Rosenthal's findings, it may be four or five years before the vaccine is given to HIV patients – assuming the vaccine works.

"It's just like putting up a building – it takes one brick at a time," Kang said.

The biggest hurdle will be developing a model for animal testing for Rosenthal's findings since he is testing uncharted territory, he said.

Kang said research similar to Rosenthal's is currently being done at Western.

Rosenthal was at a conference in Ottawa and could not be reached for comment.

Dennis Costello an HIV-positive resident of London's John Gordon Home, an HIV/AIDS hospice, was skeptical of both studies.

"It might work in rats or monkeys, but not humans," he said.

Gordon said he has tried many experimental drugs without success.

"Those new ones are pretty risky, he said. "I don't think those researchers know what they'll do."

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Copyright The Gazette 2001